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Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-6134
  • E-ISSN: 2040-6142



This article reads John Burnside’s A Summer of Drowning (2011) as resistance to the progress narratives or ‘man-making tales’ (Haraway 2016) that threaten life in fiction and in reality. The choice in Burnside’s gothic narrative and in affect theory is not to drown or not to drown but how to engage with old habits of thought that drown us in recursivity. The Norwegian island Kvaløya/Sállir is both marked and obscured by troubling events in history and in fiction, though it is impossible to tell which is which. At 28, narrator Liv Rossdal reflects on the disturbing events of midnattsol when she was 18. In the temporal distortions, it is hard to know what actually happens, but Liv and her artist mother Angelika survive by cultivating different styles of noticing their entangled states and ecologies (Tsing 2015, Barad 2007). Noticing the ways that ‘real’ characters are entangled with fairytale characters like Narcissus and the huldra disrupts habits that centre anthropocentric points of view, that eclipse other ways of making history, and that commoditize certain types of desire. Liv and her mother resist the simplifications, linearizations, and commoditizations of man-making habits by cultivating ‘unnatural’ connections. What else can bodies do, besides drown in representational thought in these disturbing times?


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